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30 in 30: Maturation of Palmieri is Ducks' X-factor

Thursday, 08.1.2013 / 10:57 AM PT / News
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30 in 30: Maturation of Palmieri is Ducks\' X-factor
NHL.com

The opportunity for Anaheim Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri was as obvious as the writing on the lineup card for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. He was listed as the left wing on the top line, alongside the team's franchise players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Though he had 10:30 of ice time in that game, could it have been a bit of foreshadowing?

There's a big hole on the left side of the Ducks' top line following the trade of Bobby Ryan, who was shipped to the Ottawa Senators in July. Palmieri, selected No. 26 in the 2009 NHL Draft, could be the player coach Bruce Boudreau picks to fill that spot on a full-time basis.

Kyle Palmieri could be the player coach Bruce Boudreau picks to fill Bobby Ryan's spot on a full-time basis.

Palmieri, 22, received his largest taste of NHL action last season, playing 42 games, and he responded with 10 goals, including five game-winners. He's split the past three seasons between the Ducks and the American Hockey League, but he looks poised to make the jump to permanent NHL player.

"At the end [of the season], he played very well," Ducks general manager Bob Murray told NHL.com. "It was unfortunate for a lot of players who had put in a couple years in the minors and they had to spend the beginning part of the [2012-13 season] in the minors. People don't understand how hard that is. It's hard to get yourself motivated. Once he got to the [NHL], he was excited and ready to go. He played very well."

Boudreau rewarded Palmieri's solid play with short stints alongside the Ducks' top-line duo during particular games, but starting there in a Stanley Cup Playoff game made a major statement.

"We were always looking for someone to play with those two," Murray said. "Kyle handled it very well. He got a few opportunities to play there. Bruce is very good with the young players, and putting [Palmieri] in a position of playing his off-wing, we like him very much offensively on his off-wing, but we want to be fair to him defensively on the off-wing and we don't know if we've given him enough opportunity to grow used to playing left wing all the time in his own zone. Playoff games are critical; little mistakes inside your own blue line. Bruce moved him in and out of there and Kyle acquitted himself very well."

Short stints on the top line are one thing, but with Ryan's departure in the summer, there's a full-time job available. However, it won't just be handed to Palmieri. Veteran Dustin Penner was signed as a free agent, and Murray said reuniting the Ducks' second line from the 2007 Stanley Cup championship season went into the decision to bring back Penner. Rookie Emerson Etem is coming off a solid season; Jakob Silfverberg, who came from Ottawa as part of the Ryan trade, is coming off a strong first NHL season; and physical forward Matt Beleskey could be an option.

"Kyle will fight for that," Murray said. "I fully expect Emerson Etem to come into camp. He's going to get an opportunity there. And we just signed Dustin Penner, who had great success playing there before. Competition is healthy, and we have lots of it going on."

But Palmieri got a big chance there in the spring and could be the first to get a shot there in the fall.

"He's pushing a lot of positions and a lot of spots," Murray said. "Kyle, I can just sense he wanted it badly and I hope he shows up in the same frame of mind this year."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 49 5 35 9 40
C. Perry 53 21 17 -4 38
R. Rakell 50 13 15 -3 28
R. Kesler 53 11 15 -8 26
S. Vatanen 53 6 19 -1 25
C. Stewart 47 8 10 2 18
J. Silfverberg 53 6 12 -2 18
A. Cogliano 53 6 11 -9 17
H. Lindholm 52 6 8 -6 14
C. Fowler 40 3 9 -10 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 11 8 6 .920 2.30
J. Gibson 12 8 2 .917 2.13

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